GSF and FightSMA Announce Finalist Grantees for Emerging Investigator Awards

Two organizations, allied in the fight to defeat the deadly childhood disease spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), jointly announced this week the winners of the “FightSMA/Gwendolyn Strong Foundation Emerging Investigator Awards.”

FightSMA and the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation conceived the awards in order to draw strong, innovative talent into SMA research.

The two Finalist Grantees are Dr. Lyndsay Murray, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada, and Dr. Constantin d’Ydewalle of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. These two Finalist Grantees will receive $62,500 each to fund a full year of their SMA work. They were chosen from an earlier group of five Award Grantees who each received $25,000 from the two funding organizations.

“Our scientific advisory panel received 24 excellent applications, ultimately choosing these two winners,” said FightSMA Chair Mike Calise. “We are extremely excited about the SMA work being done in all these labs, and especially by the work under way in the two Finalist Grantees’ labs.”

“The Emerging Investigator Awards are designed to provide initial support for an outstanding idea from a junior investigator,” said Gwendolyn Strong Foundation’s co-founder Bill Strong. “This type of seed money can be particularly difficult to obtain in today’s climate, and the Emerging Investigator Awards will help turn transformative ideas into reality.”

Dr. Constantin d’Ydewalle of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine won the award for his project, "Long non-coding RNAs in SMA.”

"I am deeply honored to be a recipient of the inaugural FightSMA/Gwendolyn Strong Foundation Emerging Investigator award,” said d’Ydewalle. “I thank both organizations for having confidence in me as an emerging SMA investigator as well as in our project they are willing to fund.”

Dr. Lyndsay Murray’s research is centered on investigating the reasons why motor neurons are vulnerable in SMA. “My aim is to identify cellular functions which are disturbed in SMA motor neurons and to find ways to correct these defects and identify novel therapeutic agents.”

“I am honored to be a recipient of a FightSMA and GSF Emerging Investigator award,” said Murray. “This award not only provides critical funding for my current research, but also provides key support for my future career.”

FightSMA ( is a 23-year-old nonprofit organization dedicated to finding a treatment for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), the leading genetic cause of infant death. The group has awarded research grants at more than 40 universities and research institutions in five countries.

The Gwendolyn Strong Foundation ( is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing global awareness of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), accelerating research, and supporting families impacted by SMA and other life-altering conditions. The GSF motto: “NEVER GIVE UP.”

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